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Forum: The Situation Room > New appearances template

Last night I was trying to come up with a better way to document all the appearances in each novel, and I borrowed and touched up a template used on Memory Alpha that allows you to expand and collapse nested lists. As I was doing that, it occurred to me that it could also be used to replace the current navbox appearances setup. I know I originally pressed for it, but after editing around it for a couple years, I think there's a lot to be desired about Template:Appearances as it currently exists. The new template has a lot of advantages over it:

  • No need to constantly format around the 100% width and make sure nothing is cutting into it. The new list can have images or anything else next to it.
  • No need for dozens of grey links on a page for a character that was only ever in one thing. The list template is adaptable to characters with hundreds of appearances and characters with only a handful.
  • Appearances ordered chronologically again. Way back when, the appearances used to be just a bulleted list; the grid only came about because there got to be too many. This new version allows everything to be put in one place - without taking up too much space - and better matches the timeline that's been established thus far. I still support sticking to "First episode" and "Last episode" in the sidebar, but for the appearances list I think it's much better to be able to see the earliest and latest appearance of a particular person.

To see it in action, log in as ListDemo24 (password: abc123) and visit User:Pyramidhead/appearances. (You need to log in on that account or else it will just look like bulleted lists.) What's really great is that, if we decide to go forward, all it will take is one change to Template:Appearances and everything will automatically switch over. I'd like to add support for the list template in the site's JS regardless, if only to update the "Appearances" section on each novel, but I really believe this will also be a great way to improve the appearances for each character. --Pyramidhead (talk) 21:43, January 8, 2014 (UTC)

I think there is certainly use on the wiki for this kind of template to list things, but I much prefer the existing appearance templates. The reasons:
  • In response to the 100% width issue, I don't see how currently the list can have images etc on the right hand side - they would be there whether the list was open or closed, which would cause weird bunching up when it was closed. We've already had nightmares with the fact logged in/not logged in people see tables of contents open/closed, so pages like On-screen kills by Jack Bauer had weird formatting when trying to fill in the gap by the TOC with picture. And even if the template was altered to make the pics appear when the list was open, is the clinical list of episode appearances really an appropriate place for random pictures?
    • Additionally, I think the 100% width is a much more effective use of space than only using half width and having to scroll down more. It allows you to see much more of the template at once.
  • I actually think the greyed out episode format is a lot better. When you look at the current appearance template, you can instantly see where in the series the person appeared, the percentage of the series they appeared in, and the pattern of their appearances throughout the series. Just a list of numbers in a big line doesn't give you any of that and is much less informative. I also think the majority of people remember episodes based on episode 5/episode 21 rather than "4:00am-5:00am" - the current format caters for both ways of thinking about episodes.
  • The in-universe "chronology" is still a little hazy, is it not? A lot of the declassified novels don't have an exact order, and some of the order comes from their release dates right? I don't think there's evidence placing every single piece of media definitively before the next in our timeline and after the previous.
    • Additionally on this point, when I look at Jack Bauer or Tony Almeida's appearances on the new template, I see a big long list of spin-off novels and things, with occasionally "Season X" scattered throughout. For the casual 24 fan, I really don't think this is a good way to present someone's appearances; it's kind of "hiding" the actual TV episodes, which is what most people are here to find, within all the other stuff. People might not even realise that "Season 1" refers to the TV show when it's in that context, mixed in with other media like books and games etc.
Those are my arguments for keeping the current appearances template, but the new template is cool and I'll add the relevant js to the site. It's just all the code here, right?--Acer4666 (talk) 10:42, January 9, 2014 (UTC)
  • By not cutting into other things, I was mostly referring to the sidebars on each page - I hate how, if you forget to add the page break, you get the "Appearances" heading, folllowed by a gap and then the huge appearances template thing. It is definitely possible to put things side-by-side with the new template; I added one to make sure. As far as formatting goes, you would just have to make sure whatever's next to it isn't too tall for the list in its collapsed state.
  • I agree that it's nice to be able to see exactly where in the season X falls, something that's lost in the new one. I added episode numbers in front to make it easier to tell.
  • For me personally, I can tell the seasons pretty easily from the rest of the list; I made them bold, but there might be something more that can be done. Or we could put everything set before the series started into its own sublist "Before Season 1" or something. Or we could reorder it completely, to match production order or to put everything EU afterward the way it is now.
I won't belabor the point; I just think that the same function of the current template can be achieved a lot more neatly and compactly than it is now. Yes - if you just copy and paste everything on that page onto the end of Common.js it should work. Thanks! --Pyramidhead (talk) 19:27, January 9, 2014 (UTC)
Cool, I've added the js. I'm still a pretty big fan of the current appearances template - I think that most articles that use it have enough text so that the template appears below the sidebar (or, they could be expanded until it is). In those cases I think this template would actually be less compact and neat, in that it is only using the half the width when it could be using it all. I also like the alternate way of presenting the data other than the standard wiki text format. But I'm excited as to what the interactive tree could be used for in other ways - the crew pages, and we were maybe talking about adding weapon appearances to episode pages, could be a use also?--Acer4666 (talk) 21:21, January 9, 2014 (UTC)
Actually, I was thinking of doing the same thing on episode pages that we do on the novels - linking to every single in-universe article that appears or is mentioned. That would be a great way of ensuring that minor points that might not be mentioned in the article synopsis - those two cops in "Day 2: 1:00pm-2:00pm" for instance - are still linked from the relevant pages. Maybe add an "Appearances" subsection in the "Background information and notes" section? --Pyramidhead (talk) 22:18, January 9, 2014 (UTC)
Something like:
...but obviously a lot longer and more thorough. --Pyramidhead (talk) 22:24, January 9, 2014 (UTC)
I know I haven't been around for a while but I just saw this and thought I'd offer my opinion. I think its a good idea to list the appearances in a chronological order, but I'm not sure that it works quite as well to show each season. I think the visual style of the current appearances template really works to show when and where the characters appeared in a season, i.e a character who pops up every so often but isn't in every episode. It is a lot easier to visually see that, than to have to read it in the new style. Would it be possible to integrate the table for the seasons when you 'expand' that particular season? --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 09:43, January 11, 2014 (UTC)
Hey Simon! Yes, I think it should be possible, but part of the reason I made the template was to get away from having so much space taken up by dead links, particularly for EU characters. Regardless, I'll give it a shot and see if it's doable. --Pyramidhead (talk) 21:43, January 12, 2014 (UTC)
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